Introduction: Protect the Tech

Recycle cast off denim into a convenient caddy with three separate pockets to protect delicate expensive gadgets from your keys, pens, half eaten granola bars and whatever else lurks in your backpack or purse. Add an optional wrist strap and it can double as a minimalist purse.

This is my SewUseful contest entry. See it for sale on Etsy!

Step 1: Simple Ingredients and Words of Wisdom

Choose a denim skirt or pair of jeans that has a zipper and intact pockets.

You'll also need a sewing machine, thread, scissors, pins, a pen (not pictured), some velcro, a seam ripper and measuring tape.

Important! Sewing denim is different than sewing other materials. Ideally you should use a special needle made for sewing denim. Also, a zipper foot to substitute for the regular foot on your sewing machine will make sewing this bulky project a lot easier (keep your regular foot close by for finishing the edges though).

Denim is strong - I broke two needles, a pair of scissors and a seam ripper making just two of these little pocket pals. That taught me some lessons I'll pass on to you: Don't force anything and Always cut through the thinnest area possible.

Finally, if you find that the bobbin (bottom) thread becomes loopy as you sew you may need a thicker upper thread. You can also raise the sewing machine's tension setting for the top thread.

Step 2: Slash the Jeans

Start by creating cutting lines around the pockets. Use your measuring tape and pen. I used a one-inch seam allowance around the sides and bottom and 3/4 inch above the top. In retrospect 3/4 inch all the way around would have been enough. Once your cutting lines are traced, cut out the pockets.

Use your seam ripper to remove the zipper (picture two). Cut through one stitch at a time, ripping about every third stitch. After you've ripped a few stitches this way you may be able to start pulling the zipper away from the fabric to make the going easier. This will be by far the hardest part of this project. Keep the faith.

Optional: if you want this caddy to have a little strap or handle, use scissors to cut up both sides of one of the double sewn seams to make a "cord" (picture three). Cut a piece of this cord 10-12 inches long, or however long you want to make the strap your preferred size.

Step 3: Attach the Zipper

Set one of the pockets face up on your work surface. Place the zipper over it, zipper tab down, with the zipper centered over the top of the pocket. Line up the edge of the zipper material with the edge of the denim and pin them together. Sew this side along the entire length of the zipper. Use a zipper foot if you have it. (picture two). Careful! Don't sew over your fingers or pins.

Now pin and sew the zipper to the other pocket in the same manner, with the zipper tab down against the other pocket. The pockets will be right side together as you pin and sew.

When you have attached each side of the zipper to a pocket, open the piece up and unzip the zipper. (picture three)

Step 4: Optional Step - Skip If You're Going Strapless

If you want a strap/handle for your caddy place the cord you cut earlier on the face side of one of the pockets. Put the ends in one of the upper corners, with the raw ends of the cord coming off to the side. The raw edges should be lined up against the raw edge of the pocket unless, like me, you cut out your pocket with too much extra material on the sides. In this case they should be just inside, as the picture shows.

Pin the edges here, one next to the other. Make sure that you leave the pins sticking out far enough from the edges as shown, so you will still be able to see them in the next step. DO NOT pin the strap edges on top of each other. Most sewing machines can not handle that kind of thickness and you will end up with a broken needle or worse.

Step 5: Side and Bottom Seams

Flip one pocket down over the other (make sure that zipper is unzipped!). Line up the pockets so they are as even as possible. Then pin all along the sides and bottom.

Sew along the sides and bottom, about 1/2" from the edge, removing the pins as you go.

Step 6: Finish the Edges

Use a zig zag (shown) or overlock stitch over the raw denim edges to keep them from fraying. Oh how that denim loves to fray.

Step 7: Flip It

Trim any errant threads, turn your caddy right side out and enjoy the beauty. But wait! To really protect your tech you need one more step!

Step 8: Add the Velcro

Velcro on the outside pockets makes them secure enough to hold your tech.

Cut four velcro strips (two pieces of hook side and two pieces of loop side) about 1.5 inches by 1/3 inches. I used this long skinny size because it closed off more of the pocket opening, and because it fit perfectly behind the top pocket seam, meaning I didn't have to show any of my stitches through onto the front of the pocket where the velcro attaches - I can put all my stitches on the backside of that seam (picture two).

Thread a handsewing needle with some thread (preferably matching the velcro or the denim) and attach the velcro however you wish. Put lots of stitches in to make sure the velcro can hold on through the stress of hundreds of rippings apart. I took my first stitch through the denim to anchor the knot, then used small whipstitches.

After you attach one velcro strip, do your best to line up it's mate, pin it in place and sew it on. Do the same with the other pocket and...

Step 9: Enjoy

Ahhhh.... that wasn't so hard. Now you can take your tech wherever you want, without pricey plastic cases! Go forth and spread the word...